CVN-21 nuclear powered aircraft carrier Manufacturer: Nort…

CVN-21 nuclear powered aircraft carrier


Northrop Grumman [NOC] Newport News Shipbuilding is developing the CVN-21 design at the Virginia Advanced Shipbuilding and Carrier Integration Center (VASCIC) in Newport News, Va. A host of CVN-21 system suppliers includes Lockheed Martin [LMT] and Raytheon [RTN].


Based on the USS Nimitz-class (CVN-68) nuclear aircraft carrier hull-form, the CVN-21 improves upon the outline of the Navyís eight largest carriers: Nimitz; USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN-69); USS Carl Vinson (CVN-70); USS Theodore Roosevelt (CVN-71); USS Abraham Lincoln (CVN-72); USS George Washington (CVN-73); USS John C. Stennis (CVN-74); USS Harry S. Truman (CVN-75); and USS Ronald Reagan (CVN-76) and George H.W. Bush (CVN-77) under construction. The Nimitz-class is powered by two nuclear reactors, driving four shafts. Each of the CVN-68-class, costing more than $4.5 billion to produce, has a length overall of 1,092 feet and a beam of 134 feet, displacing more than 97,000 tons.. The new carrier is to begin construction in FY ë07. During its 50-year life span, a CVN-21-class hull is expected to require regular maintenance availability every 36 months of operation, extended from the 24-month maintenance interval for Nimitz-class hulls. CVN 21ís dual reactor plant design has been improved to provide 25 percent more power than the current Nimitz-class produces. Steam produced by the reactor is to generate three times the electrical power of Nimitz, with the added electricity to enable more powerful computing systems, an electromagnetic aircraft launching system (EMALS), more powerful sensors, and, perhaps, directed energy weapons and defensive systems. CVN 21ís crew is expected to host about 1,000 fewer personnel than the Nimitz-classí complement of 3,000.

Combat Use:

The CVN-21 is set for delivery in FY ë14, replacing a non-Nimitz-class hull, USS Enterprise (CVN-65).

Foreign Users:



The Navyís budget plan for CVN-21 includes beginning in FY ë04 and FY ë05 the procurement of long-lead items for construction. Carrier programs, including the CVN-77 and CVN-21 long-lead procurement, in total, are funded at requests of $1.497 billion in FY ë04 and $981.7 million in FY ë05. The long-term budget estimate for CVN-21 alone is $11.7 billion, including the nearly $5 billion non-recurring cost of the new shipís design. The CVN-21 program evolved last year from the merger of two previously separate programs, CVN(X)-1 and CVN(X)-2, funded at $718 million authorized in FY ë03 for research and procurement activity. Elements of both concepts have been brought together in the new carrier design program. Despite using the same basic hull-form as Nimitz, the CVN-21 will have a re-designed superstructure, including a re-located island providing additional deck space for a new concept in carrier aviation called “pit stop.” Under the pit stop concept, the aircraft carrierís flight deck will be developed to facilitate increased aircraft sortie generation by having more space for refueling and re-arming activity, by bringing weapons and fuel delivery points closer to the recovered aircraft, and by re-organizing the sequence of events undertaken during recovery operations. These modifications on the CVN-21-classí flight decks are facilitated by significant changes to the Nimitz-baseline below decks, in the location of magazine access points, elevators and maintenance bays. Northrop Grumman is integrating the new nuclear power plant design with Bechtel Bettis and General Dynamics [GD], in a partnership that carries over from work on the design of nuclear reactors for the Navyís submarines. Bechtel Bettis laboratoryís support of naval nuclear reactor design dates back to the 1950s and the first nuclear-powered submarine, Nautilus. GDís Electric Boat Corp. and Newport News Shipbuilding jointly are producing the Virginia-class (SSN-774), the latest in the line of fast attack boats succeeding the USS Los Angeles-class (SSN-688). One of the CVN-21-classí systems dependent upon the increased electrical power from new reactor designs is EMALS, now in development by Northrop Grumman and General Atomics under competing design programs. EMALS offers more finely-scalable catapult power than current steam systems, a key element in enabling the new carrier to host unmanned combat aerial vehicles (UCAV) when these arrive in service after the first decade of the century. A Boeing [BA] F/A-18C fighter jet requires about four megawatts of power to launch using the EMALS systems. A fully loaded F/A-18F Super Hornet, the newer version of the Navy fighter, requires about seven megawatts of power to launch. With the new reactor design, the new aircraft carrier will have available 104 megawatts of power above the shipís propulsion systemís requirements. The new carrier design and integration of the various separate elements that will be adjunct to that design, is undertaken at a facility specially built for the purpose. On 19 June, 1998, then-Virginia Gov. Jim Gilmore (R) approved $58 million over three years to build the VASCIC, and another $40 million to begin its operation at Newport News Shipbuilding.